Essay about The Role of Property

598 Words 3 Pages
The Role of Property

In the seventeenth-century, England was recovering from the "Glorious Revolution" and political thought centered on the issues of nature and the limits of government. Two great political thinkers, John Locke and Thomas Hobbes took a scientific approach to analyze government and focused on the state of nature and natural rights of individuals. Locke was particularly interested in property and governments role in the protection of property. He believed that God gave the world to men to use common, but also gave them reason to make the best use of it (Locke 17). According to Locke, the best use of the land and resources involved gaining property, using the word in a narrow sense. He also used the term
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In this chapter, Locke says when man uses his labor to remove something out of the state that nature has provided this thing becomes his property (18). For example, if a man cultivates a piece of land, the food that he produces and the land will be his property. His labor "made a distinction between them and common" (19). Labor is necessary for nature to become any real use to humans (24).
Locke believed that the preservation of property was the main reason that humans left the state of nature and formed governments. He argued that natural things generally require great amounts of labor in order to be useful to humans. In order to gain property, a person must mix their labor with nature (18). Locke does not really believe there is a scarcity problem. He says that it is irrational to allow what we get out of nature to rot. "Nothing was made by God for man to spoil or destroy" (20). A person can only acquire so much before it spoils though, which is where money comes into play. By tacit consent of humans, money allows humans to accumulate great amounts of wealth, and also leads to great inequalities. Locke, however, believes that even with these inequalities, people were better off than they were with the inconviences in the state of nature. Rousseau's reply to the enlightenment was that reason leads to civilization and corruption. According to him,